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Translator Paquet hopes ‘Parasite’ to break prejudices of Academy Awards

Translator Paquet hopes ‘Parasite’ to break prejudices of Academy Awards

Posted January. 17, 2020 07:43,   

Updated January. 17, 2020 07:43


“I hope ‘Parasite’ will become a catalyst to break some of the prejudices of the white-American centered Academy Awards.

Fluent Korean of movie critic Darcey Paquet was impressive, to say the least, during our meeting at Korea University in Seongbuk-gu, Seoul on Thursday morning. When the Academy Awards was brought up, his voice got immediately excited. He has recently drawn attention as he was the Korean-to-English translator for the South Korea movie, which was nominated for six awards three days ago.

He is highly regarded for translating South Korean movies by delivering South Korean sentiment in such a vibrant way. His translated subtitles read: “Wow, does ‘Oxford’ have a major in document forgery?” instead of Seoul National University, and “ramdong,” which is a combination of ramen and udong, instead of the popular pair, “chapaguri.”

“Even until three months ago, I couldn’t imagine that ‘Parasite’ would be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, the greatest honor of all Academy Awards,” said the American translator. As most members of the Academy are white American, movies about U.S. history or featuring a white protagonist have historically won the award. Ever since the very first awards ceremony in 1929, its Best Picture awards have all been presented to movies filmed in English.

“I opened a mobile content platform yesterday and ‘Parasite’ was the first to appear in the movie section. I can feel the popularity of ‘Parasite’ growing in the U.S. over time,” Paquet said. “I have my hopes up as unexpected movies had won the award at times,” he added, predicting the probability of ‘Parasite’ winning the awards at 30 percent.

Thursday was the last class of Paquet – “Korean Cinema and Visual Culture” – at Korea University’s International Winter Campus attended by about 870 foreign students. He first came to South Korea as an English teacher at Korea University in 1997 and fell in love with South Korean movies after watching “Christmas in August” by director Hur Jin-ho. He has taught foreign students about the country’s movies at Korea University every year since 2009.

Paquet who is living in Seoul with his South Korean wife will stay in the U.S. for a while. “Indiana University has invited me for research on the translation of South Korean movies,” he said. “I will leave Seoul on Sunday and join their research for five weeks until I come back.”

Teuk-Gyo Koo kootg@donga.com